Friday, June 12, 2009

Poem Draft and Two Re-Drafts

Flowing Clock

You turned into a flowing clock
dripping down the wall
which had a bulge and curvature
like a time-hued ball,
and I fled
down streets of jasmine scent
through catacombs of the dead
where thoughts were bent
around a singularity,
attractive, charming, strange,
a sublime focus of orbit
that time and space deranged
until they curled and flowed
like some mobius made of worlds
that hang like crystal globes
through free-fall hurled.
And you were still around
like the breezes in the air,
touching my thought and passing
in games of truth or dare,
and one point drew me on,
a magnet drawing steel,
and I, a pawn,
the check of life could feel
until that gentle point,
wild and sublime,
turned a clock into a flowing face
and turned back space and time.

Half Asleep in a Thunderstorm

I lie in bed at night,
a fan above my head;
my mind whirls round and round
and I dream that I am dead.

The darkness all around me
is a blanket on the brain,
my heartbeat in my ears
is the pounding of the rain,
and I watch the world go by,
autumn leaves upon the gale,
full of visions of lost time
and the lapse of every tale.

The darkness thunders softly
as I drift here in my bed,
half in the world and of it,
half out of it and dead.

Outside, It Is Night

Outside, it is night;
but I and the raccoons
are still going over accounts,
picking out the morsels
from cast-off residues.

Would I were a Pangur Bán
hunting for his mouse,
searching out the meaning
of these everlasting words!
Then there'd be a point.

Instead, I stare at the page.
I muse on the words.
I make a few revisions.
And all this little work
leaves me feeling exhausted.

Often I find something good;
that's hearteningly true.
But it amazes even me
how absurdly difficult
I can make writing a paper.

Academic writing, like poetry,
is proof that there is a Muse,
a source of inspiration;
it's there or it isn't,
but either way, you have to try.

One always suspects that others
are able to do better.
Some work more consistently,
without this mental stutter,
but I'm not sure it's worth it.

After all, never to be inspired
is never a consolation
for lacking the pangs of genius.
That sounds quite good--
this is labor before birth.

Or perhaps it's mental aridity.
Those monks in the desert knew
that springs sometimes go dry;
and what I have is just that,
aridity. That's good, too.

But then I always wonder
if I'm really just kidding myself.
After all, it sounds pretentious
to talk of Muses, pains of labor,
aridity of the mind.

I'm pulled both ways.
I can't shake the feeling
that I should be grateful
for this gift of stop-and-start
that shirks dull assiduity.

But I also can't shake the feeling
that it's all an excuse,
a self-indulgent pretense,
by which I justify a lack of work
and empty nighttime efforts.

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